Serge Lutens Bois et Musc : Fragrance Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

My appreciation of most musks is much more theoretical than practical, with Muscs Koublaï Khän being the ultimate sensual animalic musk. Serge Lutens Bois et Musc (a 1992 Chris Sheldrake creation) is a much more restrained fragrance, pairing vegetal musk with Atlas cedarwood. Like Muscs Koublaï Khän, it is sweet and animalistic, however cedar softens the musky notes and lends a satiny counterpoint. Whereas Muscs Koublaï Khän is a Luis Buñuel film, shocking and erotic, Bois et Musc is a much softer take on the sensual aspect of musk. It has an interesting quality of appearing much more innocuous than it really is by starting out gently sweet and smooth and then revealing its more animalic side in the drydown. Perhaps, not as innovative as Muscs Koublaï Khän, but more wearable for me.

Photo: Serge Lutens photography for a Shiseido ad.



  • parislondres: Hi V! I agree the Bois et Musc is much more wearable than MKK. Have a friend here who only wears MKK – her HG!

    xoxo July 21, 2005 at 7:24am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear N, I appreciate the genuis of MKK composition, but it is a scent I rarely wear in public. Bois et Musc is much softer, and I reach for it more often. I find it very comforting.
    xoxo July 21, 2005 at 8:19am Reply

  • Tania: I think everyone knows how I feel about Koublai Khan: that it is the most foul immersion in unwashed armpit imaginable. It is like falling into the hairy embrace of a horseman from the steppe who has not seen running water in months. In that, I suppose it’s quite appropriately named. They say the Mongol horsemen used to cut open their horses’ flesh and drink the blood for revivification, that they lived mostly on mare’s milk, and that the smell of them struck horror and fear into their enemies.

    I feel very East Asian saying this, as I have the notorious East Asian revulsion for any sort of overt body odor, and MKK is all about overt body odor. It sends me out of the room howling. Just about anything is more wearable. Never tried Bois et Musc, but now I’m afraid, since you’ve compared these two SL compositions. Is it the same armpit musk? I too am not a big wearer of musks, although I can appreciate them in a distant way. When they are not actively trying to make me feel as if I am being smothered in unwashed armpit, I mean. July 21, 2005 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: After I replied to Neela above, I thought, “hey, when was the last time I wore MKK?” Probably, when I was writing something about musks, and I needed to smell it for purely scientific purposes. I have only a mere sample, and it is more than enough for me. That being said I find it a remarkably unusual scent. However, it is the same way I feel with some of Luis Buñuel’s films (the ones on which he collaborated with Dali)–they break all taboos, they repulse and mesmerize. Not sure if I would watch them just out of the blue, but I certainly think about them long time after I do.

    I suppose that comparing Bois et Musk to MKK only makes sense from the standpoint that Bois et Musk manages to convey the sensuality of musk with resorting to the same powerful and animalic embrace of MKK. It also showcases how cedar can add a welcome counterpoint of sweetness and strength. At the same time, yes, it is musk all right, but soft and skin-like, not armpit-like. July 21, 2005 at 4:36pm Reply

  • Loren: MKK is all about body chemistry. For me, after I apply it, a barbed, pungent tang exists but it rapidly fades into an ambery smooth musk.

    I’ve never thought musks were truly similar to body odor. They suggest and idealize pheremone-laden secretions, but in this era of synthetic musks, the best one can hope for is that you’ve chosen something that complements, rather than obscures, the inevitable and unique smell of your own chemistry.

    I find it much odder to smell like a magnolia. 🙂 July 17, 2006 at 5:48pm Reply

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